Notes from the Island
April 1999

What a difference a week can make. Last Sunday the water was still off in the main building because of the near freeze of the previous night, the tree limbs were bare, and only the daffodils were bravely making a show... this Sunday the towpath is starting to disappear behind an eruption of greenery, I have been able to wear shorts on two days, the bluebells and many others are already blooming profusely, and the temperature is forecast to hit 80 degrees today. I remember two years ago at about this time of year we had to return to Prague for a week to conclude our affairs and complete our move and when we returned it was as though we had missed Spring. When we left it was stark and when we returned it was green. The message here is that you should all put your own affairs on hold and rush down here to catch the show while there is still time.

One thing that is different this year is the leaves. Always before since we have been here there have been 10-11 foot Winter and early Spring floods that have washed the Island clean of leaves and debris. While raking the up-Island beaver paths we were amazed to see that so many remnants of the bluegrass seeded two years ago have survived the droughts of the last two summers. This was so surprising and motivating that, mindful of the many comments from Members about this last year, the paths have been re-seeded this year and you will find them closed during April to see if we can re-establish the grass.

There are three goose families on the Island this year. You will notice one sitting on a nest on top of the canoe shed. It will be interesting to see how the goslings get down from such a height. A large flock of cormorants arrived at Ruppert's Island about a week ago and the sea gulls promptly abandoned the river. Rocky the racoon has not been seen yet this year, but his tracks are all over the Island.

It seemed that in years past every effort had to be made to exhort the Members to turn out at the Workfest. Fortunately, if the last five are any guide, we are past that now. All indications are that there will be a crowd this time also, not because it is a worthy thing, or that the food is great, but because the company is so good that it has become a "happening event." Especially, children should be exposed to such a community work event. And all those teenagers who come down in the Summer with their friends and hide out from adults... this is the time they should pay their dues. This is not a picnic park for which you buy an annual admission ticket, this is a Club, so come on down and meet others who share a love for preserving the Island.

The Island and the Clubhouse have been continuously re-furbished since the '96 floods and are consequently in great shape. Still, this year's projects are important and will be led by the various Supervisors. The Captain will supervise putting the canoe and swimming floats out, putting a new deck on the swimming dock, and some work on the trail down the hill. There will be a project to transplant shrubs and ivy to up-Island areas for erosion control, so interested parties should bring trowels. Substantial deadfall remains from this Winter's ice storms, so an additional chain saw will be welcome. The House committee will not only clean but this year will attempt to paint, so extra brushes will be appreciated. The Canoe committee will clean and inspect all Club canoes and attempt repair to the two unclaimed canoes to put them into service for the Club. The Safety Committee will meet at 1330 hours to evaluate equipment and procedures. And of course, the Entertainment Committee will appreciate any and all potluck contributions to the meal.

For over a year now there have been notes on lockers asking the "users" to either identify themselves or confirm their use of an assigned locker by taking the note down and notifying the Caretaker. It has been suggested that the Workfest is a good time to see Bill Banta, the House Supervisor, about this and that after the Workfest any lockers with notes still on them be emptied and re-assigned.

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker